Deborah Markowitz 12-July-2005- To Life! A Celebration of Vermont Jewish Women
At the core of whatever Deborah Markowitz does in her private and public life is the Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam, a Hebrew phrase that means, 'repairing the world.'
Producer DAVAR: The Vermont Jewish Women's History ProjectAudio/Visual sound, color
Deborah, born in Tarrytown, NY in 1961, grew up in White Plains. Both sides of her family emigrated in the early part of the 20th century from the Ukraine and Slovakia. They had absolutely nothing when they arrived, but all the children grew up and became professionals.
Music was important in their lives. Her grandmother was an opera singer in Chicago and her mother played folk guitar. She took the family to Jewish folk festivals and filled the house with Jewish music. Her father grew up Orthodox, her mother conservative, but they joined a Reconstructionist synagogue when they were married. Deborah went to religious school until she was bat mitzvahed and then attended Hebrew High School.
A graduate of the University of Vermont and Georgetown Law School, she practiced law when she first moved to Vermont, and then became the founding director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns Municipal Law Center.
"Serving Vermonters is the best job anyone can have," Deborah said. Vermont was a place where she could have more meaningful career choices and the opportunity to commit to community service.
In 1998 Deborah was elected Vermont's 37th Secretary of State. As the first woman to hold this office she brought a new perspective influenced by both feminism and Jewish traditions. Deborah has developed civics program for schools including mock elections and booklets on town meeting day for all different ages.
Her office created The Safe at Home program which helps victims of domestic violence maintain anonymity while providing them a way to receive mail and other communications safely. She has helped towns modernize their election procedures resulting in fewer complaints and problems during voting.
A friend who was amused that their last names were both Markowitz introduced Deborah to her husband Paul. They live in Montpelier where they raised their children, Aviva, Sandra and Ari. The family belongs to Beth Jacob Synagogue in Montpelier and celebrates the Sabbath and the holidays with music and traditions from her childhood.
In 2012, Governor Peter Shumlin appointed her the Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.
Deborah Markowitz' photo credit: Karen Pike, www.kpikephoto.com
This project was made possible in part by major grants from the Aviva Spring Foundation, Vermont Humanities Council, Damon and Marilee Buffum, Vermont Community Fund and many other individuals and organizations who have supported DAVAR through their donations.